Boardwalk Camera Effort Reviewed

Boardwalk Camera Effort Reviewed

OCEAN CITY – On the heels of a successful pilot initiative last year, the Town of Ocean City is looking to expand its Boardwalk security camera program this summer.

“The chief and I have had a lot of discussion, and for our first year it was a successful program. With the approval of the council we are going to look at expanding the camera system this year,” Ocean City Emergency Services Director Joe Theobald said.

The first phase of installing camera surveillance on the Boardwalk included seven cameras at the locations of Dorchester and N. Division streets, 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th and 12th streets.

Although town officials are interested in expanding camera surveillance on the Boardwalk and in the downtown area, City Manager David Recor said funds to do so are now proposed to be included in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2016 Budget.

“We certainly have sufficient staff at this point dedicated to it. We run the cameras seven days a week and once the season starts we will adjust accordingly as needed,” Theobald said. “It is successful and it has helped quite a bit, and I think we will find it more useful this coming summer.”

City Manager Terry McGean added the town is looking to partner with private businesses that have cameras installed and to add those feeds to the town’s base.

“That was one of the reasons why we didn’t budget for additional cameras this year because we thought it would be a good time to initiate that program,” he said.

According to Police Chief Ross Buzzuro, the majority of the hot spots are covered, but there are a few more areas that need to be covered.

“There are a few areas on the Boardwalk to finish it out,” Buzzuro said. “There are some areas on Baltimore Ave. that we are looking to cover next but as Terry [McGean] said we have the ability to use private cameras now and that won’t be as costly.”

According to Captain Kevin Kirstein, other municipalities have been successful tapping into the private industries cameras and using the example of a bank robbery an officer can pull up the bank’s camera feed on a laptop in a patrol vehicle prior to entering the bank.

According to McGean, the town is looking to ink a Memorandum of Understanding with a business in the near future.

In January of last year, the Mayor and City Council approved the low bid of just under $92,000 for the installation of the new Boardwalk surveillance camera system. A total of $150,000 was appropriated for the project from the Boardwalk bond project cost savings.

There were already about 100 cameras installed throughout the Town of Ocean City, mostly within the Public Safety Building that is all connected to the same software system. The new cameras were added to the existing software and two new work stations and a large video wall at the Dispatch Center was included in the budget.

Sparked by serious crime in the summer of 2013, the installation of cameras were referred to as a form of increased intelligence to deter crime.
“Any area where you have a high volume of people, we do have our incidents. However, perception is reality. As we look forward, we are looking at technology,” said Buzzuro in an interview in 2013. “We want to introduce technology in the form of video cameras as a force multiplier so we can have those additional eyes that can give us assistance and place them in strategic places based on our data from previous incidents.”